How to Install New Keyboards on Your iPhone

Add personality and speed to your typing with alternate keyboards

If you want to get rid of the default keyboard that comes built your iPhone, install custom keyboards on your phone. From the debut of the iPhone until 2014, Apple offered a single keyboard option (in many languages) for writing emails, text messages, and other text. While Apple stuck to that traditional keyboard, alternative keyboards appeared for Android. Finally, with iOS 8, Apple joined the party and introduced alternative keyboards in the form of third-party apps.

Instructions in this article apply to iPhones with iOS 8 and up.

add new keyboards to iPhone
iPhone image: Apple Inc; screenshot

Requirements for iPhone Keyboard Apps

To use an alternative keyboard on the iPhone, you need:

  • A phone running iOS 8 or higher: Make sure your phone has iOS 8 or later before you proceed.
  • A keyboard app on your phone: On the iPhone, custom keyboards are apps that provide the keyboard functionality. When you download a keyboard app, it appears in the list of available keyboards, but you can't use it until you install it. After that, you can toggle to and from it on any keyboard on the iPhone.

Want to get a swipe keyboard without installing another app? You can, in iOS 13. Find out how in The 13 Best Hidden Features of iOS 13.

How to Find and Install a New Keyboard on the iPhone

Here's how to find and install a new keyboard:

  1. Open the App Store on the iPhone and tap Search at the bottom of the screen.

  2. Enter keyboard apps in the search field.

  3. Scroll through the keyboard apps and select one by tapping its name. Read its information screen for a full description of the keyboard.

  4. Tap Get to download the keyboard app you want to your iPhone.

    Downloading keyboard app in the iOS App Store
  5. Go to the iPhone Home screen and tap the Settings app.

  6. Tap General.

  7. Swipe toward the bottom of the General screen and tap Keyboard.

  8. Tap Keyboards to display all the keyboards you can load on the iPhone.

    Keyboards settings in iOS
  9. Tap Add New Keyboard.

  10. In the Third-Party Keyboards section, tap the new keyboard app to add the keyboard to your list of available keyboards.

    Activate new keyboard in iOS

The Add New Keyboard screen is also where you see the language variations on the standard keyboard. They are added with just a tap as well.

How to Use a New Keyboard on iPhone

Whenever the keyboard appears in your apps—such as when you're writing an email, note, or text—the third-party keyboard you added is available. To switch keyboards, tap the globe icon at the bottom of the screen to move from your current keyboard to another one. If you have several keyboards loaded, tap the globe multiple times until you see the keyboard you want to use.

Activating a new keyboard in iOS

When you want to switch back to the standard keyboard or the emoji keyboard, tap the globe icon again until you see the keyboard you prefer. In some keyboard apps, the globe is replaced with another icon, such as an app logo, but it works the same way as the globe. 

It's possible to have more than one third-party keyboard at a time. Simply follow the steps to install them all and then select the one you want to use.

Custom Keyboard Apps for iPhone

If you want to try out some custom keyboards on your phone, check out these apps:

  • Fleksy: Fleksy bills itself as the fastest keyboard in the world (with some corroboration from the Guinness Book of World Records). Beyond speed, it offers colorful themes, custom gestures, multi-language support, and a resizable keyboard.
  • KuaiBoard 2: Forget a different way to type; with KuaiBoard 2, you insert prewritten blocks of text from a few simple keyboard taps. Because of that, it's not a replacement for the main iOS keyboard. Instead, it's a utility that makes emailing, texting, and other tasks faster by providing text for you.
  • Minuum: Minuum can get small. You can shrink the Minuum keyboard so that it takes up less space on the screen, leaving more of what you're writing visible. It also supports gestures. People fanatically devoted to seeing as much of their iPhone screen as possible—and with excellent eyesight—will want to check it out.
  • SwiftKey: SwiftKey offers gesture-based input like Swype, but its major distinguishing factor is the way it predicts your next word to make your writing faster and more accurate. SwiftKey examines the contents of your Gmail account, Twitter feed, and Facebook page to get a sense of the kinds of words you use and applies that knowledge to what you write on your iPhone.